THE Alternative Vote is a diversionary, political red herring as we have three major political parties, with near identical policies and a common overriding lust for power.
After all, granting this AV referendum was conditional upon the LibDems forming a Lib-Lab or Lib-Con coalition. No wonder there is near total disconnect between the electorate and elected and such low turnouts in elections and by-elections (47 per cent at Oldham). AV is despised in Australia as too is its compulsory voting, leading to doubtful validity of the ‘second vote’.
Our MPs are elected under the Representation of the People Act - a subtle clue that they are duty bound to represent all their constituents, regardless of politics, but ‘Party’ always comes before ‘duty’. It is not the electoral system which needs change, but party politics! Let’s face it, if legal, a trained monkey with the right colour rosette could win a general election in any electoral system where the electorate invariably votes for the party they want in power and not for the MP they want to represent them! In very few cases have principled Independent candidates been elected, but under the LibDems’ PR proposals, Independents are at great disadvantage.
Neither will AV rid us of ‘permanently safe seats’ as these are a natural consequence of cultural and social demography in urban, industrial or rural areas. All governments engage in socio-political engineering to secure safe seats, while Boundary Commissions try to redress the balance and prevent them, but the Tory proposal to increase the size of constituencies, with fewer MPs in a rising population, will make representation of the people even more unfair. For the sake of democracy, we need far more smaller, more representative constituencies which will likely bring us more LibDem and other minority party MPs and enable a genuine debating chamber in Parliament.
Why are MPs so quiet about this proposed reduction in democracy?
I’ve heard some party political claptrap in my time. Stephen Hardy’s repetition of LibDem propaganda claiming AV “will give every voting citizen that little bit more power than they had before” (Letters 14/1/11) is utter tosh! The only time MPs want ‘power to the people’ is at elections! Never forget that his fanatically pro-EU LibDem leader, Nick Clegg, intentionally denied Lib-Dem constituents their democratic ‘power’ by ordering his MPs to abstain on a vote for a promised referendum on the flawed Lisbon Treaty - a referendum which Clegg would have lost and thus significantly have delayed the irretrievable surrender of our Parliament’s power to the EU - until the next, desperate, ‘New Improved’ EU Constitution Treaty! So much then for MPs’ claim that our “Parliament governs by the consent of the people” - it, like the EU, does not, nor will it under AV or PR for the people simply don’t count!
So it is crucial that, as a nation, we must first decide on what type of Sovereign government we need before any ‘AV’ referendum. Should we have an English Parliament? Should we have a first-past-the-post apolitical local Constituency MP in the Commons and a PR elected party MP in the Upper House (selected by Hobson’s choice like our far from local MEPs)? Or should we be a Sovereign nation outside the political, supranational EU?
Alas, no party will allow its ‘citizens’ that honest debate!
Barry M Jones
Bixley Lane, Beckley